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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Father Richard Frechette

How should we define best leader? According to Lao Tzu, writing 2500 years ago, the best of all leaders are the ones who help people so that eventually they don't need them. Then come the ones they love and admire. Then come the ones they fear. The worst let people push them around. The best leaders don't say much but what they say is fully credible. And when their work is finished, the people say, "We did it ourselves." Perhaps the best leaders of 2008 have avoided self-advertisement.

Or we might define the best leader in terms of dramatic success, like Paul Azinger who led American golfers to their first Ryder Cup victory in five years. Unlike former leaders who paired up the best golfers in terms of their records, Azinger put like personalities together and to get to know each other before playing together. He combined a systematic approach with intensity and encouragement. In other words, he showed great leadership.

Or we might define the best leader in terms of furthering the common good, not just on the large world stage where leadership has been disappointing, but in the schools and hospitals that are models for effectiveness. I have met a number of these best leaders in places like Intermountain Health Care, the Mayo Clinic and both KIPP charter schools and public schools where superintendents and principals collaborate with union leaders for the benefit of the children.

However, the best leader I have known and worked with in 2008 is Father Richard Frechette, a Passionist priest and physician who founded Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs in 1987 and St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in 2006, both in the desperately poor country of Haiti. Besides these programs, Father Rick runs 16 street schools, a nutritional program for school children, burials for the poor, water delivery, food distribution and disaster relief. This year after floods devastated Haiti, he was leading by example, rescuing the injured and shoveling houses out of the mud.

Shaken by the corruption and ineptitude of business and government leaders in 2008, we should avoid demoralizing cynicism and recognize, honor and learn from the dedicated and courageous leaders who show us what it is possible to achieve.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 30, 2008; 11:22 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Thank you for acknowleding my brother -- he is an incredible person! As my brothr said in the comment above, there is so much more to him and what he has sacrificed than ANYONE knows. I am proud to be his sister and proud of what he does for those in need! We need more people in this world like Father Doctor Rick!!

Posted by: dcamera1234 | January 13, 2009 8:40 AM
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Thank you for ackowledging a great leader who seeks no recognition. There is so much more to him, and what he has sacraficed than anyone knows.He has always made me very proud to be his brother.

Posted by: frechettek | January 3, 2009 9:07 AM
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